Signs of spring! Crocus in bloom across SE Mass. Thanks to Deb in Taunton (top) and MaryLou in Brockton (bottom) for sending in their backyard blooms.
32º never felt so good! That was the unofficial high in Boston today, but with abundant sun and not much wind there were few complaints from most of the people I talked with. That 32º was a solid 14º below average, but hey we’ll take it. An improvement over the past couple days, and there are some other signs of spring that are stubbornly trying to make themselves seen and heard. We received a couple of crocus photos today (mainly from SE Mass of course, where the snow is gone) from excited viewers who are staying optimistic. These bulbs respond to the increasing sun angle and length of daylight, somewhat regardless of temps. The cold can hold them at bay for a while, but at the first sign of opportunity they erupt into color!
Even though nature is being persistent, the numbers tell a pretty exceptional story. Through a little more than half of the month, Worcester is on pace for its coldest March ever recorded! That’s a remarkable stat in a warming world, and a stark departure from the past several winters. Boston is currently sitting at a 5th coldest March on record pace (same in Windsor Locks, CT). Both of these should slip a little in the standings over the next few days as the departures will not be significant Wednesday through Saturday, and in fact should run above average on Thursday. So we’ll see what next week’s Arctic Outbreak will do to the final figures. In any case, it’s cold. But you knew that.
Tonight temperatures will be slightly easier to take, with lows in the 10s (NW suburbs) to 20s with plenty of moonlight from a waning gibbous. It’ll be a nice a bright morning to kick off Wednesday, and will stay that way until about lunch. After then the clouds will start to fill in, becoming mainly overcast by the evening drive. Overall not a bad day at all. The next weather-maker is a front that’s currently bringing snow to the Midwest, but the center of this one will pass off to our NW. Areas of rain showers and wet flakes should be around from about 8pm Wednesday until 6am Thursday. I don’t think the snow will be a big factor, merely a reminder that it’s still winter. Accumulations in MA look to be an inch or less, with perhaps slightly more in northern Worcester County and up into southern NH where 1-3″ is possible. All of this will likely be gone by the Thursday morning drive, mid-morning at the latest.
Thursday itself is the start of spring, glorious spring! And the weather will match. Partly sunny skies are expected, and a gusty southwest wind (15-35mph) will help boost temps into the 50s for many in the eastern half of the state. It’s by far the mildest day of our forecast, very fitting with the Vernal Equinox taking place at 12:57pm. So take a walk outside, grab an iced coffee, and soak it in. Maybe even a chance to open up the windows for a while.
Friday looks a touch cooler but still comfortable compared to our recent weather, with highs in the 40s and a good amount of sun. The only ‘uncomfortable’ part of Friday will be the wind, which should gust over 25mph and add some chill to the air. But that’s pretty par for the course in March….we don’t often get calm and warm days during the transition of seasons.
A clipper is expected to move through on Saturday, which will do two things. Firstly, it brings a round of rain and wet snow. The best shot of snow looks to be northern Mass into NH/VT/ME, and at the current time I don’t think it’ll be anything big for most of our state. But it bears watching…the snow line will be pretty close. If you’re heading up to do some skiing there will be more fresh snow on the ground, as if they needed more! The timing on this looks to be late morning through the evening before departing. This will also be a tricky temperature forecast, which we’ll have a better idea of when we get closer. There’s a chance SE parts of the state may be well into the 50s while northern towns stay stuck in the 30s.
The second part of this equation is the cold, which will start funneling on down again on Sunday. Crashing temps aloft should hold our highs in the 30s, and a gusty wind won’t help matters much. Sound familiar? A pretty similar setup to what we just saw the past 2 weekends! Plan on a chilly Sunday if you want to get out and about, but you may be better served by hanging out inside and watching a full slate of March Madness. By Monday 850mb temps will probably end up in the -15 to -18C range. That’s near record cold again for this time of year, oy. I think both of these records below could be in play, or at the very least we’ll be in the ballpark.
Record ‘Low Maximums’ Next Week:
Boston – Monday 26º (1888) Tuesday 29º (1878)
Worcester – Monday 24º (1940) Tuesday 24º (1960)
So yep, you know the drill. A bitterly cold start to next week. Sadly something we’re quite used to recently! But there’s another interesting aspect to next week, and that’s the storm potential. As we’ve seen time and time again this winter, storms love a good baroclinic zone. This is where there are tight gradients between warm and cold. When you blast down a chunk of unseasonably cold air and it meets up with some milder Atlantic waters and add a little upper-air support, storms go boom. And most of the computer models we look at have been hinting back and forth at storminess near the East Coast along this next anticipated cold outbreak.
As always, there’s low certainty in a storm forecast 7 days out. The energy that will come together (or not come together) is thousands of miles away, a lot of pieces have to congeal in just the right way, etc. Looking at ensemble members is one way we start to hone in on a better idea of how things might play out. The more members that are in agreement, the better we feel about a given forecast.
Below I put together all 50 ECMWF EPS members from today’s 12z run. What you’re looking at is MSLP, basically where highs and lows may set up. I went through them and counted about 20 out of the 50 that would bring significant snow to parts of New England. So we’re talking less than 50% at this point, hardly a confident sell but enough to keep an eye on. The deterministic version of the ECMWF went ballistic with a storm on the same run…but that’s why we look at ensemble members like this. It helps add some clarity to the vagaries of the run-to-run changes.
Bottom line is that you can’t really forecast a snowstorm 7 days in advance, and I certainly wouldn’t tell you to plan on snow by next Wednesday at this point. But if you’re a snow lover I’m sure you’ll be checking out each of the model runs in the days to come, and if you hate the snow you’ll be telling those people to knock it off. The part of it all that I’m highly confident of is the cold, which should be around all of next week to help us wrap up a memorable March.